Actress Kathy Bates: A Fierce Fighter Against Lymphedema

Actress Kathy Bates has been captivating audiences with her powerful performances on both the big screen and small screen for decades. Known for her ability to portray fierce characters, Bates has also shown incredible strength in her personal life. Battling a chronic condition, she made drastic changes to not just survive, but to thrive.

In the 1970s, Bates took a leap of faith and headed to New York to pursue her acting dreams. She confesses that she was never the typical ingenue, but that didn’t deter her. “I was never an ingenue,” she says with a smile. “I’ve always just been a character actor. When I was younger, it was a challenge because I didn’t fit the mold of being traditionally pretty. But it taught me to face up to how people perceive you.”

Her career took off in 1980 when she starred in the Broadway play “Come Back To The Five And Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean” as Stella May. This marked the beginning of her success, although she did miss out on film adaptations of her iconic character a few times. However, when Bates turned 42, her life changed overnight with her haunting portrayal of a psychotic fan in the film “Misery,” which won her the coveted Best Actress Academy Award.

In an interview, she candidly discussed the roles she received throughout her career. “You’re either young and glamorous, getting the lead role, or you’re the opposite: not attractive enough. So, you end up playing the friend, the killer, the lesbian, the doctor, or whatever,” she explained. Bates acknowledged the lack of power that often came with playing the young, pretty character, while characters with power often lacked femininity.

Her talent and versatility didn’t stop at acting. Bates ventured into directing, showcasing her skill in popular TV shows like “Homicide: Life on the Street,” “NYPD Blue,” “Oz,” and the critically acclaimed series “Six Feet Under.”

Behind the scenes, however, Bates faced health setbacks. She bravely battled cancer twice, first ovarian cancer in 2003 and then breast cancer in 2012. Following her breast cancer surgery, the actress revealed her lymphedema diagnosis, becoming an advocate for raising awareness.

Bates has gone through a transformative journey, shedding 80 pounds over the years. To manage her lymphedema, she wears compression sleeves on her arms to prevent swelling. She is vigilant about wearing them during strenuous activities or when flying. Slowing down has become essential for managing her condition. “If I can stop rushing, relax my shoulders, straighten my spine, breathe deeply, and focus on each little moment of completing a task, I have more confidence in my ability to live with LE (lymphedema). The pandemic forced me to slow down,” she shared.

Despite the challenges, Bates encourages others with lymphedema to not let it hinder them from living their lives to the fullest. “Wearing a compression garment in public, especially when people are unfamiliar with lymphedema, can sometimes be more painful than the disease itself,” she acknowledged. Nevertheless, she is determined not to let her condition define her and urges others to do the same.

Bates actively advocates for more research and funding to raise awareness about lymphedema. Her passion for making a difference shines through as she continues to pursue roles she enjoys and make her mark in the industry.

Kathy Bates is truly an inspiration. She hasn’t just learned to live with her condition; she has discovered how to thrive with it. Let us share this article to inspire and support others in their fight against lymphedema. Together, we can make a difference!